Activity Level Moderate to Strenuous
Limited in vacation time? Try our "express" version of our classic Tour du Mont Blanc! It's four fewer days of hiking, but the breathtaking scenery, cultural attractions, and outstanding cuisine (especially our popular gourmet picnic lunches!) remain unmatched. Having led trips to the Alps for over four decades has given us more than our fair share of bias, but the Tour du Mont Blanc is one of our favorite itineraries. Mont Blanc is Western Europe’s highest and most iconic peak, and its idyllic views can inspire even the most jaded traveler. Travelling through France, Italy and Switzerland, you’ll wander up ancient trails through tall forests and grassy meadows, past enormous waterfalls and glaciers, and through charming hamlets in the shadow of some of the most awe-inspiring peaks in the world. While undoubtedly one of our more rigorous treks, the Tour du Mont Blanc never ceases to charm with days full of clinking cowbells, colorful wildflowers, mountain wildlife and genuine alpine hospitality.
Day 1: Arrive, Transfer to Chamonix, France
Arrive at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland. You will be picked up promptly at 2:00 p.m. for a group transfer by private van to the mountain-ringed resort town of Chamonix, France. We suggest you arrive early enough (by 1:00 p.m.) to allow time to get through customs and immigration before the scheduled pickup. The transfer takes approximately 1½ hours, and once at the hotel, you'll have time to rest a bit or explore the town before orientation. After meeting the guides and the rest of the group, we will have a delicious welcome dinner at the fine restaurant at your hotel.
NOTE—We encourage you to arrive in Geneva or Chamonix a day or so early. This allows you to begin the trek well rested and gives you a chance to do a bit of sightseeing that isn’t on the itinerary. Information about booking extra hotel nights will be sent after you sign up for the trip.
- Accommodation:Grand Hotel des Alpes
Day 2: Les Houches to Les Contamines (France)
Starting in nearby Les Houches, we climb in the forest, passing beautiful mountain farmhouses, and continue through the woods to the small pass of Bellevue overlooking the Chamonix Valley; in the other directions we see the hanging glaciers of the Bionnassay and Mont Blanc. Then it’s down through the thickly wooded hillside and typical alpine hamlets to the charming small town of Les Contamines (3,829'), a traditional mountain village with picturesque wooden chalets and a fine old church. (7 hours hiking ~ approx. 10 miles ~ 2,500' ascent/2,800' descent.)
- Accommodation:Hotel La Chemenaz
Day 3: Hike the Roman Road to Les Chapieux (France)
Today we make a long ascent on an old Roman road to the Plan des Dames, before the last ascent to the Col du Bonhomme (7,641') and Croix du Bonhomme (8,100') for lunch. In the afternoon, we hike downhill on a grassy trail to Les Chapieux (5,080'). Along the way we may see some recently reintroduced ibex and lots of marmots and beautiful wildflowers. (7 hours hiking ~ approx. 12 miles ~ 4,200' ascent/3,000' descent.)
- Accommodation: Auberge de la Nova
Day 4: The Vallée des Glaciers to Courmayeur (Italy)
We transfer 15 minutes to the end of the “Vallée des Glaciers,” enjoying a relatively easy hike over the Col de la Seigne (8,245'). Here the views of Mont Blanc are Himalayan in scale, as the mountain rises in a breathtaking abruptness from the Veny Valley to the summit 10,000 feet above. We then make a descent into Italy to Lac Combal and Visaille. Transfer to Courmayeur (3,800'), situated beneath the Grand Jorasses and Brenva Glacier, where we spend the night in a hotel. Our dinner tonight is in town. (6 hours hiking ~ approx. 10 miles ~ 2,300' ascent/2,700' descent.)
- Accommodation: Hotel Berthod
Day 5: Courmayeur to Champex (Switzerland)
We transfer 15 minutes to where we begin our walk up a nice trail past the spectacular “Glacier de Pre-de-Bar” with Mont Dolent above. This is the meeting point of the borders with France, Italy, and Switzerland. Cross the Grand Col Ferret (8,300') to enter Switzerland, and descend to the scenic village of La Fouly (5,280'), located beneath the Glacier de l’A Neuve. Transfer 25 minutes by van through the Swiss Val Ferret with its forests and fields of wildflowers to Champex (4,808'), a small lake resort that features typical Swiss-style chalets and charming gardens. (5 – 6 hours hiking ~ approx. 9 miles ~ 2,500' ascent/3,100' descent.)
- Accommodation:Hotel Glacier and Sporting
Day 6: Champez to Col de la Forclaz (Switzerland) and Argentiere (France)
The classic route of the Tour du Mont Blanc takes the Bovine route. An hour and a half of easy walking followed by a rapid ascent in the forest brings us high over the Rhône Valley and the town of Martigny. You will not be disappointed with this fabulous view! An easy descent brings us to the Col de Forclaz (3,900'), where our van awaits to take us to Argentiere. (6 hours hiking ~ approx. 12 miles ~ 2,400' ascent/2,300' descent.)
- Accommodation: Hôtel de la Couronne
Day 7: Back to Chamonix (France)
We transfer 15 minutes to our starting point to Le Col De Montets (4,800'), then we will hike to Les Cheserys (7,130'), enjoying views of the Le Tour and Argentiere glaciers, and all the Mont Blanc range. After rejoining the Grand Balcon Route and La Flégère, we descend to Chamonix (3,300'). Festive farewell dinner with the group. (5 hours hiking ~ approx. 8 miles ~ 2,700' ascent/1,500' descent.)
- Accommodation: Grand Hotel des Alpes
Day 8: Return to Geneva - Fly Home!
Transfer to the Geneva airport. There will be one group departure for the airport at 8:30 a.m.* Please schedule your flight after 11:00 a.m. for inter-European destinations, after 12:00 p.m. for all transcontinental destinations. If you would like to depart earlier or later, the transfer is on your own.
*Due to Switzerland’s commercial transportation laws, we are only able to provide one group taxi service to the Geneva Airport on Day 8, included in the cost of your trip. This transfer will be at 8:30 a.m. and will arrive at the Geneva Airport at 10:00 a.m. Private transfers can be arrange at an additional cost, and range between 43 Euros to 275 Euros (shared/solo).
Dates and Pricing
Jun 10 - 17, 2018
Jul 08 - 15, 2018
Aug 05 - 12, 2018
Sep 09 - 16, 2018
$4,695 (3-14 members)
Auberge de la Nova — Les Chapieux, France
A fine place to rest your head after your Tour du Mont Blanc, or any exploration of eastern France, Auberge de la Nova is a quiet refuge in the valley of Les Chapieux. Hostel-style accommodations offer either private rooms or shared dormitories, as well as a drying room for clothes and shoes that are likely to get wet while you're hiking. You're also likely to have worked up an appetite, so the Savoyarde specialties that the Auberge restaurants serves (fondue, potato gratin, Diot sausages, etc.) is another added bonus.
Grand Hotel des Alpes — Chamonix
Located in the shadow of Mont Blanc in the heart of Chamonix, the Grand Hotel Des Alpes is brimming with Savoy charm. The traditional blue shuttered building, built in 1840, offers 30 handsome rooms with flat screen TV, DVD player, minibar, safe and free Wi-Fi. Relax in the stylish lounge with a book, or recover from a long day of hiking in the Wellness Center, complete with Jacuzzi, swimming pool, sauna, steam bath and massage services. The hotel is just steps away from the lift to the Aiguille du Midi, and complimentary afternoon tea and a warm, welcoming staff add to the overall experience.
Hotel Berthod — Courmayeur
Originally built in 1882 by Jean Laurent Berthod, Hotel Berthod is still run by the Berthod family. As you'd expect, there is a familial atmosphere here, and guests are made to feel quite at home. The property is ideally located within walking distance to the ski lift and just steps away from Courmayeur's main street, where guests will have numerous dining and shopping options. The hotel is outfitted with indoor spa facilities, cozy, personalized rooms and offers an excellent breakfast buffet.
Hotel Glacier and Sporting — Champex
Serving guests for over 100 years, the Hotel du Glacier is a Swiss hotel tradition. Rooms are basic but comfortable, and many have lake views. There are two restaurants, one serving regional cuisine, another serving café food and pizza. Perfectly situated for boating, trekking, mountain biking and tennis in the summer, and skiing, snowboarding and sledding in winter, this hotel is a cozy getaway for all travelers.
Hotel La Chemenaz — Les Contamines-Montjoie, France
La Chemenaz chalet hotel is located in the French Alps, in the Haute-Savoie at Les Contamines-Montjoie village resort. The hotel offers luxurious accommodations in a gorgeous setting facing the Mont Blanc Massif. A variety of rooms, suites and family accommodations feature decor that is decidedly chalet chic, with faux fur textiles and warm wood finishes. The restaurant serves local specialties such as raclette, fondue, tartiflette and reblochonnad.
Hôtel de la Couronne — Argentière
The Hôtel de la Couronne is located at the base of Mont Blanc in the alpine village of Argentière, just 5 minutes from departure tracks for hikers and Les Grands Montets Ski Resort. Guestrooms come equipped with a TV and private bathroom with a shower or a bathtub, as well as splendid views. Wi-Fi is available in all areas and is free of charge. The onsite restaurant, Les Cheserys, serves homemade, traditional Savoyard cuisine in a magnificent mountain setting.